The VegHead is basically lazy. Give me an easy way out and I’ll be halfway to the door before you’ve finished putting your jacket on to follow. And so it is with creating new meals. Why start entirely from scratch when you can borrow so much from something you already know how to make? This theme is a large part of The VegHead’s You can cook EVERYTHING on a BBQ summer range of recipes….which we will get to in due course as the weather warms enough to find The VegHead outside and chasing the woodlice out from their winter of nibbling on the cold scraps around the BBQ plate.
A lazy way to make a new meal is to simply take all the same ingredients you’d use for an existing meal, and think about cooking them in different ways and in different combinations. For instance, last week The VegHead cooked Thai curry. Only it wasn’t; it was a stir fry on a bed of curry fried rice. Exactly the same ingredients as might have gone into a curry (OK….didn’t use coconut milk in this case), but a different end result.
Moreover, changing the method and order of cooking generally means the time taken to make one meal from the same ingredients might be substantially different than the time taken to make your usual meal. Whether that’s a good thing or not depends onthe circumstances, but the opporunity is there to discover a truly useful and delicious variant.
New flavours emphasised, different textures, and a refreshing view on the plate.
Somewhere deep in The VegHead’s brain is a powerful cluster of synapses that take control every time I think of the words “fried” and “rice” used in that order. Despite anything I might try to do, into my mind pops the words “Flied Lice” instead, said in a fake Asian accent. “Fried ice-cream” remains fried , “rice pudding” remains rice . Put the two words together and the “r” regresses seven letters back. What event seared this neural connection into my the structure of my brain I cannot say – the crushing disappointment of finding that the last slice of cake has been licked by the cat. Don’t know. Too late for therapy. Time to just cook…
This is a very simple fried rice; before getting to the ingredients list let me just say a few words on how much curry paste you’ll need. The answer is “it depends” – on how hot your curry paste is and how hot you like your food. So here’s my best advice. Imagine you were cooking a Thai curry for dinner. However much paste you’d use in that curry (for the same number of people you’re cooking for) then use one sixth of the paste in this dish. You’ll need much less as the heat of the paste isn’t tempered with the coconut milk.
Ingredients (enough for two people and probably a little leftovers in the fridge afterwards):
- 1 cup (dry) of brown Thai rice
- 3/4 cup of corn kernels (either boil fresh sweetcorn and cut off the cob, or use frozen)
- 3/4 cup of peas
- Yellow (or red) Thai curry paste
- 1/3 cup of macadamia nuts – roughly chopped. Substitute with cashews if you need.
- Peanut oil
- Cook the rice using the boil/absorption method, along with the curry paste. If you’re unfamiliar with this method – in a saucepan, cover the rice with about 1″ (2.5 cms) of water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the water has almost entirely been absorbed. Then turn off the heat and leave covered in the saucepan for 10 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, lightly stir fry the corn and peas in a heavy pan.
- Once the rice is fully cooked it will have taken on a pleasant orange colour from the curry paste. Add it to the peas and corn. Mix thoroughly and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure it doesn’t stick too much.
- Stir the nuts through and serve immediately, perhaps with a simple stir fry of vegetables.
I have NO idea what best to call this dish. I must have been inspired by the making of a cannelloni dish recently. Instead of lasagna sheets you’ll need beancurd skins, and instead of being genealogically Italian this is somehow a relative of Thai cooking.
For those not familiar with “beancurd skins” – these are available from any Chinese, Thai or similarly Asian grocery. As the name suggests, they are made from beancurd (a.k.a tofu) and are basically large, thin sheets of the stuff. The consistency is tougher than might be imagined – much sterner stuff than your wobbly block of soft tofu. They are sold dried, as are lasagne sheets, and must be preboiled or soaked in boiling water in order to soften them. In the absence of beancurd skins, I guess you could substitute the rice sheets that are used to make spring rolls.
In this dish the beancurd rolls are filled with a spicy mix, while the sauce that it bakes in is flavoursome, but not spicy.
- beancurd skins
- 1 cup of cooked haricot beans
- 1 cup of blanched spinach, chopped
- big handful of fresh coriander, chopped
- Thai red curry paste (The VegHead makes his own so it isassured to be free from shrimp paste – I haven’t made any for a while so the recipe for the paste isn’t posted yet, I predict it will February before doing so)
- 1 cup of button mushrooms, chopped
- 1 cup of zuchinni, chopped
- 1 cup of brocolli florets
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 4 – 6 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
- fresh lemongrass, finely chopped
- peanut sate sauce
- coconut cream
- handful of crushed, roasted peanuts
- half a lime
- The best way to evenly mix the thai curry paste with the haricot beans is to saute them together in a small saucepan, with some peanut oil. Once done, mix the spinach and coriander through.
- Lay out a beancurd sheet on the work area. The sheets I used where all about 25cms by 35cms, and I generally used two or three layers make it strong enough. Once rolled up with the filling inside each roll was a fat sausage shape about 15 cms long.
- Figure out how many rolls you want to end up with, and divide the bean/spinach mix accordingly i.e. I ended up with 3 rolls, so I rolled a third of the mixture into each roll.
- Place the mix in an even sausage shape, parallel to the short edge of the beancurd sheet and inset a little from one of those ends. Do I need to describe this? Look – you’re basically going to slop down a bit of bean/spinach mix and roll it up, tucking it all in so that you end up with as neat a package as possible. How hard can this be? Get in there and get your hands dirty!
- Place the rolls in a deep baking dish, lined up like sardines in a can. Cover with the vegetables as per the picture. Note that it is important to have the half drunk glass of Chardonnay next to it or yours won’t be at all authentic:
- Over this splash some tamari, and then pour the sate sauce and coconut cream (logic dictates you will have mixed those before hand)
- You can see from this that there needs to be a good covering of the sate sauce. Sprinkle generously with the crushed peanuts. Bake covered on a high heat for 45 minutes (preheated oven). Adjust cooking time as per your expert opinion.
- Before serving, dash with the juice of half a fresh lime.
It is much better to use salt-free peanut butter to prepare your own satay sauce.
SheWhoMustbeFed provides the household with home made nut butters – cashew and peanut being the staples with the occasional foray into macadamia. To make nut butter, fresh nuts are simply lightly roasted and then they are introduced to The Champion. The Champion is what you get when you cross a bench mounted grinder with a kitchen tool. Its easy to imagine The Champion being the result of Tim Taylor from the TV show Home Improvement being asked to design a new food processor.
In the absence of your own home made peanut butter, salt free peanut butter can be generally found in health food stores, if you can find one that hasn’t been overrun with body building supplements that is!
Needing to have (suggested measurements are just that…suggestions. You have to fiddle a bit to get the right consistency)….
- 3/4 cup of lightly roasted peanuts. Crush in a mortar and pestle and reserve
- 1/2 cup of peanut butter
- 1/2 cup of coconut cream
- 1 tablespoon of tamari
- A few thin slices of onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 1 hot chilli
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons of peanut oil (or coconut oil) – for frying the onion and garlic
- 1 teaspoon of sesame oil – for flavouring
- Boil the kettle, and dissolve the peanut butter in a cup of water. It doesn’t have to completely dissolve but it helps to get it as pre-dissolved as possible
- Meanwhile, in a small pan over a low flame…
- Lightly sauté the onion, garlic and cumin. If these at all burn, discard and start again as they really need to be very lightly cooked
- Add the dissolved peanut butter, tamari, and the whole chilli (the chilli is meant to add a little heat, and then be fished out before serving). Add up to an extra cup of water to help thin the mixture
- Simmer lightly for a few minutes, do not allow to boil. Keep an eye on the sauce and stir regularly as it will tend to stick to the pan easily
- Remove the chilli. Add the coconut cream and the sesame oil. This will take the heat off the sauce so bring it back to a simmer.
- As soon as it simmers again, add the reserved crushed peanuts and serve